Make it fun. This is the simplest, yet most effective, learning tool for any subject. English classes are flooded with mediocre attempts at Shakespeare, and books that our children cannot relate to. What most people forget is how broad the English language is and the extent to which this form of communication seeps into our lives. Books, television, radio, the list is ongoing. English is everywhere and is so easy to find.
For a child, the most effective methods of teaching tend to be those that involve fun. Nursery rhymes leading to songs, picture and sound books, educational television programmes, audio books. We are surrounded by opportunities to turn English lessons into fun activities. Scrabble may remind you of a boring Sunday in with your parents when you were a child but today we have to resources to make it more fun. For example, as a teacher I have taken my class into the playground during a lesson with giant scrabble pieces and allowed them to play team scrabble. This removes any pressure being put onto one student, it involves exercise in the running around, it creates a sense of competition and involves learning new words, spelling and word structure.
A lot of my lessons involve taking the students away from a classroom situation. I have taught most stories through role play. I have asked children to take on roles and have always taken on a silly role myself. I find that children are more likely to open up to new characters if the teacher is able to. I have played the part of monsters, witches, princesses and goblins (to name but a few) and have always been amazed by how enthusiastically my students respond.
I have often found grammar a difficult subject to teach but I read a wonderful book that made common mistakes comical. I then went into my class and asked them to think of sentence that would still make sense, but have a different meaning if the grammar were changed. For example, “A Panda and his friend walk into a bar. The barman asks what they would like and the Panda’s friend tells the barman that the Panda eats shoots and leaves.” The alternative is “A Panda and his friend walk into a bar. The barman asks what they would like and the Panda’s friend tells the barman that the Panda eats, shoots and leaves. “Well that’s not very nice” says the barman.’ Needless to say the students found this quite entertaining!
As with any subject, enjoy. English is a beautiful language and is made much better when we take into account different people, different methods of communication and alternative views. Tailor the lesson to the student and as long as they are smiling, you know they will be learning. Enjoy.